By Stacey Forshee and Elizabeth Kohtz
Over the last few days, we have been traveling around Sao Paulo state in Brazil as part of the international module for the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Partners in Agricultural Leadership program or PAL. PAL is a two-year program to enhance leadership and advocacy skills of young farmers and ranchers.
When reflecting on tours and the people we meet, one word really stands out to describe our interactions with Brazilians involved in agribusiness and farming: PRIDE. Pride in their innovation, pride in the equipment they use, pride in the commodities they produce and pride in the companies they work for.
P – Producing Farm Equipment
At the Case IH Plant in Piracicaba, Brazil, we saw the assembly of sugarcane harvesters. This facility is the only Case IH plant in the world that produces sugarcane harvesters, and they export them worldwide. We also visited a family-owned Case IH dealership. Pride for their business was evident as the owners explained how they serviced 56 towns in the area and showed us the belt they won for best service of the 120 Case IH dealerships throughout Brazil.
R – Research and Technology
At every stop on our journey we learn about cutting edge technology in sugarcane varieties, planting and harvesting equipment, processing at the mill, and new ways to extract ethanol. Employees are proud of the companies they work for and excited for the future of the sugarcane industry. One sugarcane plant breeder sharing his research with us referred to his plants as his “boys” and said he hoped to work with the company long enough to see their “grandchildren.”
I – Innovation
Until relatively recently, sugarcane has been harvested by hand. Brazilian sugarcane is now 75 percent mechanized, and the harvesters have gone from being able to cut one row of cane at a time to three rows. Everyone we talk to is excited to share that Brazil is number one in the world for sugarcane production.
D – Development
Case IH proudly holds training classes for machinery drivers and mechanics. Most of these workers receive at least 45 hours of training yearly. As a developing country, programs like these help Brazilians become skilled laborers and improve their quality of life. Brazil’s booming agriculture industry has helped 50 percent of its population move into the middle class.
E – Energy
USJ Sugar Mill crushes 2.5 million tons of sugarcane into sugar and ethanol annually. During this process they are able to use cane to produce the energy required for the entire mill and refinery. The company also puts energy into improving the quality of life for people in the community. USJ provides a school, hospital, soccer fields, pools and exercise facilities for community use.
Pride needs no translation. Our South American journey has reminded us as farmers and ranchers how important it is to share our own pride of agriculture with others. Passionate personal agriculture stories can have a major impact on everyone!
Stacey Forshee and Elizabeth Kohtz are members of PAL Class 7. They are blogging about their experiences in Brazil with the PAL class. Stacey and her husband David farm in north central Kansas. Elizabeth is a dairy veterinarian in southern Idaho.